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There is a mushroom that covers 5.8 square miles.

A fungus is among us, and it spans the length of 35 football fields. Still, you may have walked right by it. That’s because this imposing organism, which was discovered in 1998 in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest, is entirely underground. “It’s thousands of years old,” says Greg Filip, a pathologist with the USDA Forest Service, “and it expands every year.” The humongous fungus is classified as Armillaria ostoyae, or honey mushroom, yet it’s anything but sweet. In fact, it’s zapping nutrients from conifer root systems and killing off trees. “Even wildfires can’t penetrate deep enough to kill it,” Filip says. “Removing it would mean destroying the entire forest.” Supersized ’shrooms: Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.  

 

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